Leap Day Practice Report

Once every four years Leap Day comes around and our Joe Yeager spent this one at Tech football practice taking it all in.

The Beatin' Goes On: Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. But three times is a trend. And for the third straight practice Tech's defense has taken it to the offense. With the exception of a few safety-splitting slants for big yardage, the defense pretty much shut down the offense.


And they've accomplished this somewhat remarkable feat without the aid of a fierce pass rush. The defense has brought the house—or at least a big portion of it—quite frequently, but with minimal results. It is tight coverage by the back seven, and the cornerbacks in particular, that has stymied the offense.


Very impressive indeed. And if the pass rush suddenly comes alive the current dominance may turn into abuse.


Bad Outing for Quarterbacks: Seth Doege and Michael Brewer hadn't been setting the road afire before Wednesday's practice, but they set a new low on the final day of February.


Doege was simply inaccurate. He missed open receivers, threw into coverage, suffered interceptions, and with the exception of a quarterback keeper for a short touchdown, had a miserable day.


Brewer wasn't a whole lot better, but he did at least make a few big plays in the passing game to offset the mistakes and misfires.


And to be fair, it's quite clear the quarterbacks are missing all of the receivers who are out with injuries.


Crowding the Line: In the nine years I've covered Tech football practice, I've never seen the defense crowd the line as consistently as Art Kaufman's unit does. Today it seemed that every other play there were six or seven players lined up literally along the line of scrimmage.


More remarkable still, the defense isn't giving up an inordinate amount of explosive plays while deployed in this posture. Give credit to cornerbacks Eugene Neboh, Cornelius Douglas and Jarvis Phillips, who have been simply outstanding in coverage.


Busy Day for Waddle: Tech's starting left tackle played several plays at right tackle during run game drills. He also gave Delvon Simmons a stiff shove after the whistle. Post-play extracurriculars have been a Waddle specialty this spring.


Speaking of Which… Jackson Richards and Le'Ravin Clark traded blows like Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler after a rep in pass rush drills. I don't think anybody lost any teeth.


One Area of Defensive Concern: Jace Amaro, Derek Edwards and Tyson Williams all had success on deep slants. Good for the offense, but the depth of the linebackers was not good here, and safety reaction was too slow. The failure of Cody Davis and D. J. Johnson to close off the middle of the field was a problem last year too.


Jakeem Grant…speared a high ball on a crossing pattern and looked very dangerous on a shovel pass to the outside. He will be a full time job for anybody to deal with in space.


Kindred Evansis not looking all that hot on the pass rush right now. Not much explosion and drive coming off the line. He looks like he needs to get stronger. Evans' difficulties could be why Jackson Richards was working with the first team defense. So was Delvon Simmons.


Pick Clique: Cornelius Douglas, Thierry Nguema and J. J. Gaines all had interceptions. D. J. Johnson dropped another.


The Wheels Are Turning: Kenny Williams ran intermediate wheel routes down the sideline several times and caught one pass for good yardage. Former Tech offensive coordinator Dick Winder made lots of hay with James Gray and Anthony Lynn on this type of pattern.


Wild Sadale: Sadale Foster ran one play out of the Wildcat formation.


Money Quotes from Coach Tubs:


Saturday's scrimmage, after grading film, we looked a lot better mentally on defense than we did on offense. We didn't execute very well on offense either.


We threw a lot at ‘em today. We're tryin' to add for our scrimmage on Saturday. See how much our guys can handle.


I didn't think our quarterbacks threw the ball well today. We had a beautiful weather day and we didn't take advantage of it throwing the ball.


We worked a lot on the running game.


If you look at Saturday's scrimmage, I thought the bright point of the offense was running the ball with Sadale Foster. But we had some good blocking too. Le'Ravin Clark's coming a long way.


Receivers wise we're kind of beat up. Didn't have any outside receivers and didn't throw the ball deep and that kind of affected our offense.


I thought Kerry Hyder is getting much better. Dennell. Wesley is much improved.


There's gonna be a battle at defensive end. You could take two of those guys, or all of ‘em right now and all of ‘em would be about the same.


If we can get Marcus Kennard back he'll be just as big a factor on the outside [as Darrin Moore].


The thing about a good running back is they can see. In other words, I know he's got eyes, but to see the field as he's running. He [Sadale Foster] was good at that in junior college running back punts and kickoffs. And now he played running back in high school.


Actually we recruiting him to be a slot because we felt like we were gonna be deep enough [at running back], but with not enough guys out here in spring we decided to start him at running back. And now with that happenin', and with the guys hurt we were able to move [Bradley] Marquez back to wide receiver.


Sadale's got quick feet. He's built low to the ground but he's not a small guy. You know, he said he weighed 190 today. We're gonna try to get him into fall camp at about 200 pounds. He needs to get on the Weight Watchers diet a little bit. He's carrying a little bit too much body fat. The great thing about him, he can catch the ball too. And so you don't have to worry about subbing for a running back when you need a guy to catch the ball.


Every day he [Cornelius Douglas] comes out here he gets better. The thing I like about Cornelius and the other guys, he never says anything, he works hard, he works on his technique. He knows he got a chance in the future playin' past college football if he'll get better. The problem is he's never played there much. The one thing he'll do is compete. He'll compete hard.  All the DBs are competin'. Today I saw J. J. Gaines make some plays that he wouldn't have made this time last week.


I'm not gonna jinx him [Ryan Bustin]. I'm not gonna say anything. He's doing good, you know, he's only missed one. Knock on wood—one in about 40 kicks?


If we don't get anybody else hurt in spring he [Bradley Marquez] will stay at wide receiver because we've really got enough guys there [running back]. Ronnie [Daniels] needs the reps, Kenny [Williams] needs the reps. Three is in good shape. Bradley needs to go outside because we're missing, what, three or four or five wide receivers. He needs the reps there. I think bottom line, if Sadale hadn't done early and showed us what he could do you'd probably see Bradley there.


The thing he [Will Smith] does is he plays fast and he plays big. We didn't see another play like he made in the scrimmage all year last year on defense, where somebody just shows up, tips the ball, catches it and gets the ball back to the offense. We just couldn't buy one of those. I think he's that type of guy. He's got football smarts. And he's gonna be a big guy. He's 230, 235. I wouldn't be surprised if he's 245 after the next four or five months.


There's no team in the country that's got a better home schedule than what we got. We've got three top 10 teams coming in. West Virginia's gonna be real good coming out of the chute. Then you got Oklahoma and Texas comin' in. The addition of TCU is gonna make this conference tougher. But that's good. Ever week you got to be ready to go. I'll take this one [schedule] as compared to last year's.  

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